Our days are filled with chaos in a beautiful, all consuming way. Our very free lifestyle provides us with a healthier approach to living in may ways and it keeps our minds open to the unexpected. One of the most noticeable benefits is the lack of stress that my children and I feel on our highly customized journey. They are carving their own path now and it is such an interesting ride. Our focus really is on creative freedom of expression in every sense.
With a deemphasis on traditional academics and unrestricted time to delve into our own interests, each of us are able to satiate our creative needs on a daily basis. Giving my children the freedom to choose that which they want to focus their time on has helped them evolve into interesting, capable human beings who are passionate about learning.
"It's Happening!" squealed my youngest child.
He just started working on a new online reading game and it clicked that he is actually able to read. Yes, it was happening through what felt like osmosis coupled with readiness and a desire to read. Words are everywhere.
He has been able to read words here and there but he certainly doesn't express the same enthusiasm with regard to reading the his brother and I share. He just hadn't shown much interest in reading or being read to for a couple of years now. It was noticeable how different his receptivity to being read to was. As much as our house is every bit a reading house, we all honor our own unique needs. Just this morning I was thinking about how I need to get over any thought of having another early or voracious reader. Each kid is unique and though I find reading to be quite important in terms of self education, which we are all about, I am also one who believes that pushing a child to learn something they are not interested in nor ready for is not only a complete waste of time but it may also turn them off to very thing you are hoping they will learn.
Push a reluctant reader into reading exercises on some arbitrary time frame and you will likely squash his natural interest in reading. The desire and readiness must be completely their own. Children learn best when they are calm, interested and ready. Trying to rush something as complicated and important as reading will likely backfire even if it looks as if the child is making progress. Children can learn under fear and coercion but it certainly isn't optimal. Requiring a child to do x amount of reading everyday whether they are interested in it or not may help them learn to read the words in the moment but it will likely do nothing to inspire a love of reading especially if it is a struggle in the process.
I love experiencing what feels like spontaneous ability. All of a sudden my youngest is writing complete sentences with perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation without ever doing any formal instruction. Today he showed a desire to do something he's never tried nor shown any interest in previously (kind of like reading). He went from zero practice to multiple well crafted sentences with one big, organic, I've been soaking it all in kind of a leap. Unschooling allows this type of learning to happen on his time frame and in his way. He is learning just by being alive in the world experiencing communication through multiple channels. In the midst of this discovery he stated: "I'm a good speller from what I know." Yes, apparently you are.
So, now that he is ready to read, spell and write, he is also interested in practicing reading, spelling and writing of his own volition and he is experiencing success with online reading games and apps. He is entirely self-motivated and he has complete power over his own learning with no external pressure, expectation or rewards. I find that in today's world with the plethora of apps, online games and informative audiovisuals, children can learn anything in real-time and that learning is entertaining and meaningful. When learning is fun, children are engaged and interested which is an ideal recipe for learning success.
I keep coming upon articles that punish technology and media; however, those are incredibly relevant methods of information dissemination especially for visual spatial learners. Understanding your child's learning preference is essential to fostering their love of learning. If you provide them with a well prepared environment that capitalizes on their learning potential and set them free to explore that learning rich environment with no expectation or adult interference, you may be surprised at how your children will flourish. Everyone learns on their own time frame and in their own way. Trust the process of letting go and a child's natural curiosity will drive them to find what interests them. Support those interests whatever they are and stop measuring and assessing progress or mastery. When a child is engaged, learning, creative and productive external measures cease to be relevant.
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